TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken isn't holding back his feelings on the Bucs' red zone struggles in 2017.
"We chose to suck. We chose not to do it as well as we can do it. I say that all the time, ever since I've been in coaching," Monken said Thursday. "Everyone has to take a bite of it because I always say, 'We sure as heck want the credit when we win.' I do. I want some of the credit. And we've gotta own it when we don't. When we don't score and we don't take care of the ball, when we don't do the little things that allow [ourselves] to win, then [we've] gotta own it."
Monken, now entering his third year with the team, added: "We made that decision as an offense, to play poorly -- we did."
"We did enough things that you can't do -- you do if you're a bad team," Monken said. "Bad football loses before good football wins. We're talking about quarterback/center exchanges, costly penalties, missed opportunities to put games away. But I do like the way our team finished at the end with that last five-game stretch."
The Bucs led the league last year with 26 fumbles, six of which happened in the red zone, also a league-high. Bucs receivers also had a 9 percent drop rate in the red zone, sixth-highest in the league. Their six drops in the red zone were tied for second-most.
"We have to be better in those critical areas," Monken said. "How do we stop turning the ball over? How do we stay explosive? How do we score touchdowns in the red zone? We finished 24th in the league [in red zone scoring]. What's interesting about that is it just would have taken five more touchdowns and then you jump from 24th to eighth because the sample size is so small."
Quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian doesn't think the offense is that far off.
"I can show you seven plays off of the top of my head where, if we just played pitch and catch, we would have scored a touchdown," Bajakian said. "Instead, maybe we don't convert on third down or we take a sack and now it's second-and-long and we end up kicking a field goal on both of those instead of scoring a touchdown. So, it doesn't take a whole lot to improve. It's just a matter of execution."